Last night at Drinking Liberally, I was approached last night by Nancy Niedzielski, a major proponent, of I-1000, the "Death with Dignity" initiative. I certainly do not want to diminish the pain fshe feels, but I came away very upset by her outspoken bigotry toward Catholics and others who oppose the initiative on moral or ethical grounds.
First,Ms. Niedzielski approached me because, on my blog, I have said that I-1000 is very flawed legislation that may hurt patients. I have six concerns:
1. I-1000 creates a conflict of interest by giving health care providers, who benefit from terminating the lives of people early, the ability of offer patients the less expensive alternative of suicide.
2. I-1000does not protect the terminally ill from the current practice of requiring them to impoverish themselves to qualify for terminal care under Medicaid.
3. It does not require the participation of family members in this process.
4. It may actually create new legal barriers to the use of drugs now legal to to relieve pain and suffering if those drugs may cause of loss of life.
5. It inserts the government into a very complex process now conducted quietly and confidentially by patients, family and physicians.
6. It contradicts the oath most doctors take to "first not do any harm."
Ms. Niezielski's arguments largely come from the horrible experience she had with her own husband's death. No caring person can ignore her pain or fail to see her committment. What I do strongly disagree with are her
efforts to blame the Catholic Church for opposition to I-1000, as if the Church's position tainted the issue. I am a Jew and not very fond of many stands taken by the Church but I would be
a blind fool not to see all the good the Church has done as well. Dismissing a moral issue because it is supported by the Pope is a terrible form of bigotry.
My second concern with her stand and the official stand of the "death with dignity" movement, is their cavalier dismissal of the concerns of people who fear this initiative would abridge the rights of the disabled or
the impoverished terminally ill patient. Ms. Nielzielski repeatedly accused me of not caring about her husband. Of course I do. My own father recently died under somewhat similar circumstances. I was very hurt by her dismissal of my
concerns about how I-1000 would have interfered witht the compassionate care and relief from suffering he was able to get under our current laws.
The pain felt by Ms. Nielzielski should not justify voting for I 1000.